Keeping up his campaign promise, US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to roll back his predecessor Barack Obama's climate change measures, a move slammed as "irresponsible" and "spiteful assault" by the Opposition and environmental groups.
"With today's executive action, I am taking historic steps to life the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion and to cancel job-killing regulations," Trump said after signing the order at the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday.
"My action today is the latest in the series of steps to create American jobs and to grow American wealth. We're ending the theft of American prosperity and rebuilding our beloved country," Trump said.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump strongly believed that protecting environment and "promoting our economy are not mutually exclusive goals."
"This executive order will help to ensure that we have clean air and clean water without sacrificing economic growth and job creation," he said.
The Executive Order directs all agencies to conduct a review of all regulations, rules, policies and guidance documents that put up roadblocks to domestic energy production and identify the ones that are not either mandated by law or actually contributing to the public good.
It also rescinds a number of the previous administration's actions that do not reflect this administration's priorities.
The order directs the EPA to take several actions to reflect this president's environmental and economic goals, including a review of the new performance standards for coal- fired and natural gas-fired plants that amount to a de facto ban on new coal plant production in the US.
In his address Trump said his measures would start a new energy revolution.
"We are going to start a new energy revolution, one that celebrates American production on American soil. We want to make our goods here, instead of shipping them in from other countries. All over the world, they ship in, ship in, take the Americans' money, take the money, go home, take our jobs, take our companies, no longer folks, no longer," he said.
"We believe in those really magnificent words, made in the USA. We will unlock job producing natural gas, oil and shale energy. We will produce American coal to power American industry. We will transport American energy through American pipelines made with American steel, made with American steel, can you believe somebody would actually say that?" he said.
The opposition Democratic party and environmental groups, however, slammed Trump for his latest move on energy and climate change.
"We risk throwing away decades of hard work growing the clean energy economy and connecting our nation's workers to the jobs of the future with this partisan and misguided action," said Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera, who is a Ranking Member of the Space Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
"Putting America first means continuing our role as a
global leader in reducing carbon emissions. Our work over the last decade to reduce carbon emissions put America first - and this irresponsible executive order throws into uncertainty how we prepare for and tackle the very real consequences of climate change," Bera said.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Trump and Congressional Republicans' contempt for clean air, clean water, and the US' clean energy future endangers the health ofthe country's children and the strength of the economy.
"The Administration's spiteful assault on the Clean Power Plan will not bring back jobs to coal country, it will only poison our air and undermine America's ability to win the good-paying jobs of the future," she said.
However, Congressional Western Caucus praised Trump for his executive order.
"With the signing of today's American Energy Independence Executive Order, the previous regulatory regime that stamped out innovation, killed jobs, and consistently moved the goalposts to untenable distances for the energy sector, is one step closer to being erased.
Today's action from President Trump proves that environmental protections and economic development are not mutually exclusive goals," said its chairman Paul A Gosar.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said Trump's executive order will help America's energy workers and reverse much of the damage done.
"In particular, I hope that this action will result in full repeal of the Clean Power Plan, which ravaged coal country and was temporarily blocked by the Supreme Court last year. We are committed to repealing regulations that hurt jobs and drive up the cost of energy.
To build on this, the House will act on legislation this week that ensures any new EPA regulations are rooted in science," he said.
Senator John McCain said Trump's executive order on energy independence was an important step forward in rolling-back the Obama Administration's unconstitutional executive overreach on Arizona small businesses and consumers.
"These onerous regulations would have done far more harm to the our state's economy than good for the environment. For example, regulations on power plants alone would have created millions in compliance costs for Arizona utilities, which would have been forced to pass on costs to Arizona consumers in the form of high monthly energy bills," he said.
American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) welcomed the executive orders signed by Trump.
"The leading states for iron and steel production in the US are heavily dependent on coal for electricity production and, therefore, so is our industry," said Thomas J Gibson, president and CEO of AISI.
"EPA regulations that disproportionately impact coal-generated electricity have put the affordability and reliability of electricity for steel producers at risk, and we are pleased that the Administration is taking another look at their impact for domestic manufacturers," he said.
(With PTI inputs)